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The Hidden Gems List (2004)

My Hidden Gems list is an in-depth look at all the films I feel are in some way, underseen, underappreciated, or just plain unknown, and they really shouldn’t be that way.

I have a lot of lists of films I really like on this blog. But there are a lot of films out there that I like, so it can be overwhelming for someone who just wants to find a few movies to watch. Plus, I assume that people reading this know enough about movies and have seen enough to where they know what big shit (Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, etc) they need to see. I don’t need to tell you that. Plus, everyone loves when you can find a movie that not a lot of people know about that’s really good that you can now show other people who don’t know about it.

So the idea was to write, in depth, about some movies that I love that I think people need to see. From each year. And what I’m gonna do is go very slowly go through all of them, and give them their time in the spotlight. And then you can read them and maybe find some to go, “All right, I should check that out,” and maybe add them to your Netflix queue.

The idea is to give you things to see (specifically ones I feel most people would ignore, have ignored, or would assume it wasn’t something they need to see, that I think are really good and worthwhile that not enough people know about), and to show some love to more stuff than the big things from each year. We get enough of that. The big stuff is always there, but it’s these ones that fill out a collection.

You can always buy a diamond, but isn’t it more fun to pan a gem from the rest of the dirt? Here are 2004′s gems.

1. Collateral

    • It’s probably not so much of a hidden gem, but I actually haven’t heard much about this film in a long time, which leads me to believe people have forgotten about it. I fucking love this movie. I think it’s one of the best movies of 2004. And I think this was really one of the few really good Tom Cruise performances from the past 15 years. Mostly he does the same thing. This is one where he actually did something different. And the film is just so good. It’s so engaging all around. I don’t know how hidden this is, but it is definitely a gem.

2. EuroTrip

    • God, I love this movie so much. This is one of those movies I remember so fondly from when it came out. It’s so funny to me. Plus it gave us the song “Scotty Doesn’t Know,” which we should all be indebted for forever. I just think this movie is so enjoyable and love it so much, therefore it ends up on this list. 2004’s not a great year for hidden gems. It’s pretty much set with films that are high profile and films that are great and high profile. And any of the gems are ones that people have come around on, like Eternal Sunshine and Shaun of the Dead. They can’t really be considered gems anymore. So mostly I went for films I enjoy or did enjoy (or like this one, still enjoy) that I think are underappreciated. I’m very open about not really liking comedies nowadays. And this one I think has so many moments that I reference and go back to that I have to show it some love.

3. The Girl Next Door

    • I haven’t seen this in years, but I remember when it came out, going, “Wow, I thought this was gonna be shit and this was actually really solid.” So for that, I’ll show it some love. I’ll be honest, though — I don’t remember this movie at all. I own it, though, because I think it was a Black Friday purchase for like, $3.99. So I’ll see it again soon.

4. The House of Flying Daggers

    • Big fan of these Zhang Yimou films. Everyone knows Hero (right? It might still be on the 2002 list. We’ll see), but this is the one that is just as visually resplendent. That scene where they fight in the bamboo forest is astounding. This is like Crouching Tiger, but with more colors. And I love that. It’s such a fun martial arts film. Seriously, throw me some colors, and I’ll like a film better. Just watch this film. Even if you don’t care about the story, the colors and the choreography will make you engaged throughout. I guarantee it.

5. I Heart Huckabees

    • really fucking heart Huckabees. This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in the past decade. It’s so hilarious. (P.S. I remember a while back, they did that Rotten Tomatoes five favorite films article with Jennifer Lawrence and she listed this as one of her favorite films. So I’m not alone!) It’s an existential comedy, which right there, turns a lot of people off. I think this is the one entry in David O. Russell’s filmography where a lot of people are gonna go, “Wait, what?” It makes no sense at all, and yet — it’s hilarious. It’s so good. I’ve seen this movie like a half dozen times by now (at least), and I still love it even though it makes no sense to me.

6. Jersey Girl

    • I don’t care what anyone says, this is a good movie. This movie never stood a chance, with the whole Affleck and Lopez thing taking all the press. But this movie — it’s not perfect, but it’s heart is in the right place, and it’s very entertaining. I don’t know what people expect. This is one of those movies people think they hate, but if it comes on, and they watch it, they’ll be able to watch it and not hate it. And yet, I think they go back to forgetting that they enjoyed it when they saw it. Fuck that. I support this movie. Also — George Carlin has a really great performance here. I support any movie that gives George Carlin an acting role. (Yes, even Scary Movie 3.)

7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    • I’m not gonna lie — this is my favorite Wes Anderson (live-action) film. I fucking love this movie. It’s so, so good. I think this movie is absolutely perfect. And I still don’t think it gets the respect that it deserves. So there.

8. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

    • One of my top ten favorite hidden gems to show people. If this movie were released theatrically, I feel like Geoffrey Rush would have gotten all sorts of Oscar nominations (well, just one, but you know). Instead he won all the Emmys and stuff. But damn. This movie is great. It’s a Peter Sellers biopic. And it’s fucking amazing. Anyone I know who is established enough for me to know they like and respect movies — I make them watch this. It’s so fucking good. In fact, I’m about due for a watch on this myself…

9. The Machinist

    • Oh yeah. Christian Bale starving himself. This movie is so good. Everyone knows it because of what Bale did for it, but the movie is also pretty damn good on its own. I think people ought to actually watch this, because his performance is something to behold.

10. A Very Long Engagement

    • Everyone knows Amélie, but how many people actually saw Jean Pierre Jeunet’s follow-up to Amélie? This movie is really good. It’s Audrey Tautou again, and it’s about her searching for her husband, who went missing after fighting in the trenches of World War I. This is a movie where — if this were told in English, and by someone whose style wasn’t like Jeunet’s — I think this would have won some Oscars. (Or maybe it would have in the 40s. Either way, really.) It’s really great. People need to see this. This is also the film that got Marion Cotillard noticed in America (even before La Vie en Rose).

– – – – –

Quick Hits:

  • Kinsey — This is another one of those movie’s that so good. I actually have this here because I need to remind myself to see this again. Odds are, in a few months, this will be on the hidden gems list proper. But for now, it’s still on it.
  • The Ladykillers — This might be Tom Hanks’ best performance since Cast Away. It’s the weakest Coen brothers film, but what is that really saying? Give this one another try. It’s better than you remember.
  • Miracle — So goddamn inspiring. I didn’t want this one to fade into obscurity. People need to remember how good this is.
  • 2046 — The sequel to In the Mood for Love. Sort of. It’s a strange movie. But it’s so good. This is one of those movies that I’ve heard from friends who aren’t really into movies that they love. It was actually those people loving this movie that got me to see it. When non-movie people love a movie like this, it means it’s good.
  • National Treasure — Do people remember how awesome this movie is? This was a movie that was basically The Da Vinci Code before The Da Vinci Code came out and ended up being better than The Da Vinci Code. I wanted to remind people of that. That’s the hidden gem aspect of this, the fact that this is so entertaining and that you might not remember it.

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